Honoring Coach Jim Leighton


Faircloth_BarrySpring is in the air and it’s a time of renewal and rejuvenation.  This April marks a special occasion at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex as we prepare to name the college courts after Wake Forest Tennis legend Coach Jim Leighton.  Coach Leighton was the namesake of the on campus tennis stadium, originally dedicated in 1988, next to Reynolds Gym and Kentner Stadium where the Deacon Tennis programs competed for almost 25 years.  Now, a piece of the state of the art Wake Forest Tennis Complex, home to the Winston-Salem Open, adjacent to BB&T Field and the Indoor Tennis Center will bear the name of Coach Leighton and continue to share the story of his legacy with Wake Forest tennis student-athletes and enthusiasts in Winston Salem for years to come.

With the Winston-Salem Open providing for the creation of the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in 2011, the Demon Deacon men’s and women’s tennis programs found a home on six of the courts on the northern part of the 13-court facility.  It will be these six courts that Wake Forest will dedicate in honor of the legendary men’s tennis coach in a ceremony that will take place during the Demon Deacon men’s tennis match against Virginia Tech on Sunday, April 7 as part of Men’s Tennis Alumni and Parent’s Weekend.


The six varsity courts will be known as the Leighton Courts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. The dedication continues the tradition of honoring Leighton, who coached the Demon Deacons from 1962-84 and is the winningest coach in program history with a 277-172 record. The contributions made in Coach Leighton’s honor have advanced the facility even further for our Wake Forest Tennis programs since the opening in 2011.


Through the generosity of tennis alums and many community members, the courts have recently been outfitted with six individual electronic scoreboards dedicated to tracking play for each of the matches.  Other improvements for the future of the Leighton Courts also include installing cameras so that each of the six matches can be streamed online and the construction of permanent stands around the site from which fans can enjoy the matches.


What makes the honoring of Coach Leighton, who passed away in 1988, so remarkable is that his name continues to resonate so strongly with the tennis community of Wake Forest and Winston- Salem.  The vivid memories that alums and community members have for Coach Leighton have been fascinating to hear and it is without question that Coach Leighton was a man dedicated to his profession and to his students, embodying the teacher-scholar philosophy found on our campus today. Coach Leighton and Wake Forest renewed passion for the game of tennis, and the bright future ahead for the program would certainly make Coach Leighton proud.


The celebration later this week will mark an important event in the history of the program once again as we find ourselves honoring a man who helped teach so many about the game of tennis and life.  His legacy will no doubt inspire future generations of tennis in Winston-Salem as he has touched so many already with his teachings and love for the game.  We invite you to attend the dedication this coming weekend to relive some of the great Coach Leighton memories and look to create new moments for the Wake Forest Tennis program’s history at the Leighton Courts.


Tennis alumni, parents and fans who are interested in attending the weekend’s events can RSVP here or contact Alan Ashworth in the Deacon Club at 336-758-5008 or ashworah@wfu.edu for more information.


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